Five hundred years ago I went to seminary. Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. There I met the most remarkably gracious, generous, kind, talented and funny people. Many I continue to treasure as friends. At Candler my faith was broken wide-open and it was brought home. There I came to know the One who created and is creating still. The One who is creating still in you and in me. That understanding alone brings hope when I am deeply in this tender time of waiting.
At Candler I learned how time can be experienced differently. We don't always mark time the same way. It's not that time is fast or slow, it's that there are different ways of measuring how we experience time in different moments of our lives. There is the notion of chronos time and of kairos time. Chronos time is the time we keep track of on our watches. It is the time we rush through or hold on too tightly. In times of grief, chronos is the time that is endless or time that there is never enough of. Kairos time is said to be "God's time." Kairos is planting a seed in the ground and waiting for the sprout to show after you've tended to it and done all you can do. Kairos is the time when the egg hatches, or the baby takes her first step. Like chonos time, in times of grief kairos is endless or never enough.
In times of grief, many of us can mark the moment of loss. "It was a Saturday morning at about 1130 when the world began to turn differently and I knew nothing would ever be the same." A deep loss comes and we can mark it on our hearts as well as on our calendars. Sometimes I wonder if my mind holds on and somehow looks for one specific moment. I wonder if my mind enters the moment on my life-calendar and by doing so has some sense of control. This sense of control then in turn marks and measures the time that has passed since. What always feels true is that no matter what the day or the hour this deep loss happened - my whole body remembers and knows that my life won't ever be the same.
When we were little we would open windows on an old family Advent calendar every year. Each day, my sisters and I would turn back a door and behind it would be a picture of some part of Jesus' story. This was a small way of marking our way to Bethlehem, but that memory stays with me decades later. This activity taught us to be mindful of counting the days, as well as opening our hearts as each picture brought together a bigger story of what was yet to come.
During these December days we wait with and wait for our grief ... to settle...to heal...to transform into something that makes meaning in our lives. We wait for restoration. We wait for an easing of the pain, a relief from the weight of this loss that so often feels just too much to bear. We wait with hope for peace to come. We wait with faith enough to sustain us in these tender days, to call on the One who promised that we would never wait alone. Mind and heart. Emmanuel. God with us.